Two separate Benches of the Supreme Court on Tuesday closed all proceedings arising out of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 and all cases related to the Gujarat riots in 2002, except the Naroda case underway before a trial court.
A three-judge Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abhay S Oka and Vikram Nath ordered closure of all proceedings in the Babri Masjid demolition and dropped the contempt proceedings against former Union Ministers Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambhara, and others.
“Nothing survives in the matter now” since a larger bench of the SC has already delivered a judgment on the Ayodhya matter, the Bench said.
“You can’t keep flogging a dead horse. We are only making an attempt to take up old matters. Some may survive, some may go. The larger issue has already been decided by a five-judge bench. The petitioner has died, so the contempt petition against the respondents is closed,” the Bench said.
In a separate hearing by a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Jamshed B Prdiwala also closed all proceedings arising out of the 2002 riots in Gujarat. A score of pleas were pending before the top court. Commenting on them, the Bench said the cases have become “infructuous” with the passage of time.
“Trials in eight out of nine cases are over and final arguments are going on in one case in trial court, Naroda Gaon, Gujarat,” the Bench said.
In the Gujarat riots case, a variety of cases were pending, including transfer petitions filed by the National Human Rights Commission, special leave petitions of riot victims and the writ petition filed by NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace in 2003-04, seeking transfer of investigation from the Gujarat police to the CBI.
The bench observed that the Supreme Court had constituted a Special Investigating Team and prosecution of nine cases related to riots and the trial in eight of them was already complete.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the Special Investigation Team (SIT), informed the apex court that trial in one case relating to violence in Naroda Gam area in Ahmedabad was pending and at the final arguments stage. In the rest of the cases, the trials had concluded and they were at the appellate stage either before the High Court or the Supreme Court.
“Since all matters have now become infructuous, this court is of the view that it need not entertain these petitions any longer. The matters are therefore disposed of,” the SC order stated.
The court ordered that, “It is, however, directed that the trial with respect to Naroda Gam be taken into conclusion in accordance with law and to that extent the SIT appointed by this court be certainly entitled to take appropriate steps in accordance with law.”